This morning CAO Brandi Morissette told LMT that the council would be resuming their council meetings over Zoom. She said, “We have heard the public, and we understand what they want.” She added they would also be recording the meetings, which would be made available over the RM’s website once they figure out the technical aspects of how that is done.
The August 10th meeting was not available over video with only audio and the agenda displayed. Morissette said the public would be able to attend via Zoom or at the municipal building, where they will have access to both audio and video feed.
She noted that there are drawbacks because she has multiple responsibilities during the meeting and wouldn’t be able to advise council, take minutes, operate Zoom and provide screen sharing of the meeting while it occurs. As such, they may not be able to provide screen sharing of everything.
“The whole idea of the public gallery attending the meeting is so that you see council proceedings.” She added that if people want to see what is being discussed, they can follow along via the RM’s website, where the agenda and relevant documents are available.
Morissette also provided clarification around whether meetings have been recorded previously. She said the August 10th meeting was the first to be recorded as it was a test to see how it would work.
Further clarifying the video capabilities of the RM, Morissette said the only video surveillance is of the front office for safety reasons. She said the chamber ceiling camera is obsolete, not operational and hasn’t been utilized during the two years she has been with the RM. She also said the RM is not able to see or hear the gallery in the basement. The clarification came after Reeve Bob Schmidt was asked if the RM could view the gallery, and he responded only if a piece of equipment was turned on.
Ratepayer Leandra Cameron on the RM’s decision to resume council meetings over Zoom, “I think that’s absolutely wonderful. I am happy. I have to tell you I am surprised. I am happy that they recognize what the ratepayers want and are willing to take that into consideration and do what the ratepayers want.”
Cameron said the meetings that have only been provided over audio had been hard to hear and distinguish who was talking. “You miss what is being said if people are talking at the same time or there is noise. So this will go a long way to show that council is interested in giving ratepayers transparency.”
She said it is convenient for ratepayers to be able to watch over Zoom. “If you want to be transparent, then there is no problem in giving the ratepayers Zoom. This is a step in the right direction.”
Next steps on Public Consultation
Morissette provided information on the next steps in the public consultation process. The public consultation process is part of the development of the RM’s strategic plan. The RM recently released the results of an online survey which is part of that process.
She said that within the next three weeks, there would be another public consultation workshop to review the survey results. She said it will help to see where the RM will go in building goals. Notification of the Zoom workshop will be sent out over the website, advertised in the paper, and over all-net connect for those who have submitted their email addresses to the RM.
Resolution coming out of Closed Session
Morissette said one resolution came out of the closed session during council’s regular August 10th meeting. The resolution was to enter into a special levy agreement with the Organized Hamlet of Spring Bay. She said the budget of Spring Bay has not yet been approved. She added that information would become public after some items are finalized.
Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times